For many of us, the smell of sunscreen triggers memories of hot summer days, and trips to the beach—we wear it at the cottage, on the boat, in the water, and while weeding the garden . But when was the last time we stopped, and asked ourselves—what exactly is sunscreen, and how does it protect me from the sun?

For decades consumers have been bombarded with advertisements stating that sunscreen is the only way to combat the sun’s powerful and damaging rays. Recently, however, the FDA has released documents stating that the vitamin A in many popular brands of sunscreen can accelerate the development of skin tumors and lesions. And that’s only one of the negative implications of sunscreen! Millions of people have been slathering sunscreen on themselves, and their children, without knowing the truth—scary isn’t it?

A recent investigation by the Environmental Working Group, declared that 4 out of every 5 brands of sunscreens do not adequately protect consumers from the sun. North America’s most popular brands—Coppertone, Neutrogena, and Banana Boat—have been rated as some of the poorest performers! Moreover, many of these sun lotions contain harmful chemicals—chemicals which may cause liver or kidney damage and reduce fertility. Remember, not all of the synthetic chemicals in sunscreen are harmful. There are a few, however, that you should steer clear from. These include:

· Diethylphthaltate

· 4-Methyl-Benzylindencamphor

· Oxybenzone

· Cotyl-Methoxy-Cinnamates (OMC)

· Octyl-Dimethyl-Para-Amino-Benzoic Acid (OD-PABA)

· Homosalate (HMS)

· Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)

While studies have deemed the above ingredients as harmful, the FDA believes them to be “generally regarded as safe and effective”. That being said, the FDA has not altered sunscreen guidelines since 1978—Yikes!

Absorbing hazardous chemicals is not the only thing you should be worried about when wearing sunscreen. In fact, studies have proven that sunscreen inhibits our body’s ability to produce Vitamin D by more than 95%! Vitamin D is vital in helping us build stronger bones, reducing aging effects, and improving our general health. And though Vitamin D tablets are available, the best way to get Vitamin D is by exposing ourselves to the sun. That being said, we must still remain cautious, for the sun is powerful and can indeed harm us.

Tips and Tricks to Avoid Getting Burnt and Protecting Yourself from Skin Cancer

It is important to avoid burning—sun burns are what cause skin cancers and so on, not sun exposure.

* To avoid being burnt, limit your sun exposure to ten minutes a day. Gradually increase your time spent in the sun as the summer season continues—in a few weeks you will be able to have normal sun exposure without risk of a burn or cancer.
* The sun’s rays are most harmful from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. during this time it is best to avoid sun exposure—stay in doors or in a shaded area.
* If you absolutely have to be outside during these times, wear lightweight long sleeved clothing and a hat.
* In 2001, the National Academy of Sciences published a comprehensive review showing that the omega 6:3 ratio was the key to preventing skin cancer development. To lessen your chance of getting skin cancer incorporate more Omega-3s into your diet as our North American diets are already high in Omega-6s.
* Use a natural sunscreen like Dr. Mercola’s Natural Sunscreen with Green Tea! Dr. Mercola’s sunscreen does not block Vitamin D absorption like other sunscreens, nor does it contain any chemicals, making it safe and effective!

Now that you know the facts, it’s up to you to make the changes right for you and your family for the summer and make sure the sunscreen you are using is safe!

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Nathalie Beauchamp, B. Sc., D.C. is co-author of the book Wellness On the Go: Take the Plunge - it’s Your Life! And the founder of, and on-line wellness education program. Dr. Beauchamp is a chiropractor, a certified personal fitness trainer, a professional bodybuilder, a TV personality, a corporate wellness consultant and an inspirational speaker.

As the co-author of the book Wellness On the Go, I would like to invite you to claim instant access to 3 chapters of my book by visiting

Dr. Nathalie Beauchamp